Movie Review: The Invisible Woman (1940)

by StevenHelmer

A review of the 1940 romantic comedy starring Virginia Bruce.

Synopsis: When a fashion model at a high-end clothing store becomes fed up with the way her boss treats her and her coworkers, she agrees to let a playboy-funded scientist turn her invisible. This ultimately puts her in harm's way when a crime boss also sees the ad and sends his henchmen to steal the machine and kidnap the scientist.


I'm not a big fan of the Invisible Man movies (I always thought they were a little dull). So, when I saw my daughter had picked this movie out last night, I honestly didn't have that high of expectations for it. However, after watching it with her, I have to say the film was a pleasant surprise.

The thing I liked about this particular film was the fact the writers kept it as a comedy. This really worked in this particular case because it meant there didn't need to be a big emphasis on the science behind her invisibility (every time Barrymore's character tried to explain it, it usually ended up with someone telling him not to). That, alone, made the movie more entertaining than the films that preceded it just because it kept things at a a quick pace and allowed for some funny twists, including the influence of alcohol on her invisibility.

I think another thing that really helped this movie was the surprising amount of talent. Barrymore was an experienced character actor, Hamilton, of course, was known for her portray of Oz's Wicked Witch of the West and Howard and Ruggles were well-known comedians. That mix led to quite a few very scenes that were funny just because of the people that were in them.

My only real complaint about this movie is we are never really told exactly why the invisibility machine was invented. Yes, it was a potential moneymaker for the professor's playboy benefactor (Howard). But, we also saw a self-parking car early on in this movie. That, to me at least, looked like it would be a much bigger money maker but was never mentioned after the first scene. As a result, had this been anything more than a comedy, I probably would have insisted on a better explanation.

Invisible Woman [VHS]

Claude Rains may have meddled in things that Man must leave alone, but that doesn't mean Woman shouldn't get in on the act. Hence, The Invisible Woman, entry number two in Unive...

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Final Opinion

As I said before, I had some doubts about this film. But, it turned out to be a cute romantic comedy that was much more enjoyable than I imagined it would be and was considerably better than any of the Invisible Man movies as a result.

My Grade: B

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Updated: 01/09/2017, StevenHelmer
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DerdriuMarriner on 04/04/2022

StevenHelmer, Thank you for practical information, pretty pictures and product lines.
The library system here does not have The Invisible Woman amongst its Blu-ray and DVD collections. So I don't expect to see it any time soon unless I discover that it's hiding in plain sight as one of many movies in an omnibus collection.

Was Hamilton as effective here as she was in her Wicked Witch of the West interpretation?

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